Jury: DaimlerChrysler Must Pay $25 M to Worker

Dec. 8, 2006
A jury in the New York Supreme Court ordered DaimlerChrysler Corp. to pay $25 million to a brake re-liner and former police officer who lost his right lung to mesothelioma, a rare cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.

Alfred D'Ulisse, 73, alleges he was exposed to asbestos while re-lining Chrysler brakes while working at an auto shop in Brooklyn, N.Y., from 1969 to 1981.

Chrysler, the world's fifth-largest automaker, was found to have acted in "reckless disregard for the safety of others" in its failure to warn of the hazards of asbestos, according to Weitz & Luxenberg, which represented D'Ulisse.

As a result, Chrysler was found to be jointly and severally liable, thus requiring the company to pay 80 percent of the verdict – its 10 percent share and an additional 70 percent for the shares of two other companies.

According to Weitz & Luxenberg, this is believed to be the highest verdict against Chrysler to date.

"The jury obviously disbelieved Chrysler's bogus litigation-defense that working with asbestos brakes is safe," said Michael Roberts, one of the attorneys on D'Ulisse's trial team.

Two other car manufacturers – General Motors and Ford Motor Co., each found to be 10 percent liable by the jury – settled with D'Ulisse before trial for undisclosed amounts, according to Weitz & Luxenberg.

DaimlerChrysler: Jury Believed "Junk Science Theories"

Steven Hantler, assistant general counsel of Stuttgart, Germany-based DaimlerChrysler, asserted that the jury accepted "junk science theories" during the trial as true and that "while we sympathize with both plaintiffs, DaimlerChrysler presented evidence at trial that clearly demonstrated that the company's products were not a substantial factor in causing their diseases."

Promising appeal, Hantler added that DaimlerChrysler in the next round of litigation "will clearly establish that our right to a fair trial and due process of law were systematically undermined by the trial judge's bias and many improper rulings."

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